by Jim Di Gioia

January 11, 2019

Someone once asked me why DOMINIONATED doesn’t tag its posts by music genre, to which I replied with an admittedly long and likely opaque explanation about genre’s irrelevancy in modern music’s current sub-niche-ified state. A better explanation would have been to simply offer up the music of ursidae (the solo project of Vancouver-based musician Caro Deady) as an example of how immaterial genre is at defining and describing music. Based on traditional songwriting, informed by contemporary artists slotted into catch-all “alt” categorizations, and clearly marking out a subtle, slow-burning path of her own, ursidae’s 2018  almost//closer EP can’t be confined by any one tag.

almost//closer repays your patience and openness in spades. Opener “almost//love” is a gathering torrent of emotion, swelling with desire and desperation. Deady’s voice is alive with feeling, punctuated by a lightning-strike arrangement of strings, guitar, and swirling atmospherics. “//come no closer” treads similar waters, amping up tensions and offering a cathartic, cleansing release before tackling “♡breaker”, a bold and beautiful cover of Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker”.

I get why genre and categorization may have been relevant before the explosion of sub-genres and cross-pollinating musical styles. You could make an argument for genre’s ongoing relevancy amidst the ever-increasing deluge of music and art bidding for our attention. Still, I listen to a subtle record of substance like ursidae’s almost//closer and feel labelling it with broad identifiers only does the art and artist a great disservice. almost//closer is almost pop, closer to folk than rock, but it’s also music that’s nowhere close to being summed up by a neat and tidy tag. However, if society dictates that genre-tagging is the norm, who am I to rebel?

RIYL: “damn fine”, “deeply moving”, and “unflinchingly unclassifiable” music.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

Latest posts by Jim Di Gioia (see all)